The "staircase" on the periodic table outlines several elements, boron, silicon, germanium, arsenic, antimony, tellurium, and polonium whose chemical behavior is somewhere between that of metals and non-metals. We call these elements semi-conductors, and the physics of such elements gave birth to semiconductor physics. The importance of semiconductors cannot be overstated; the integrated circuit just by itself, made of semiconductors, has permanently changed the way we live our lives and relate to one another.

A good course in semiconductor physics will help students learn about the following topics:

  • The crystal structure of solids
  • Quantum mechanics and the quantum theory of solids
  • The semiconductor in equilibrium
  • Carrier transport phenomena
  • Nonequilibrium excess carriers in semiconductors
  • The pn junction
  • The pn junction diode
  • Metal-semiconductor and semiconductor heterojunctions
  • The bipolar transistor
  • Metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors
  • Junction field-effect transistors
  • Optical devices
  • Semiconductor power devices

One of the most widely used textbooks in this area is Donald Neamen's Semiconductor Physics And Devices. There is no lack of books written on this topic, many of which can be found on Google. There are free ebooks and tutorials on semiconductor physics available from

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